Minnesota deer kill drops 7 percent

It’s no surprise, given the reports from hunting season, but Minnesota’s 2011 firearms deer harvest was down 7 percent from the previous year, the Department of Natural Resources said today.

According to the DNR, Minnesota hunters shot 192,300 deer during the 2011 season, a drop of 15,000 from the 207,000 deer killed in 2010.

In 2011, firearms hunters shot 164,800 deer, while archery and muzzleloader hunters took 20,200 and 7,300 deer, respectively, the DNR said. Overall, Minnesota’s archery and firearm harvest was down 6 percent for both seasons and the muzzleloader harvest declined 19 percent from last year.

The DNR attributes part of the decline to lower deer populations and a windy first weekend of the firearms season.

“Upwards of 50 percent of the annual deer harvest occurs during opening weekend,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “The high winds hunters experienced opening weekend hindered deer activity and the associated harvest.”

I reported in November that the deer kill in far northwest Minnesota was down about 30 percent from 2010, while hunters in the Bemidji-Park Rapids area shot about 10 percent fewer deer. Across the northwest region, which extends south to the Alexandria and Glenwood, Minn., areas, the firearms deer kill was down about 13 percent from 2010.

Cornicelli said deer numbers now are at established goal levels in many areas, but there’s dissatisfaction among hunters about the population. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is hearing the same thing from hunters on the west side of the Red River.

North Dakota’s estimated deer harvest will be available later this spring, once the department tallies results from a mail-in survey it sends to a random sample of hunters.

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